BY ANDREAS BUTLER
With the 2012 football campaign around the corner, Bethune-Cookman University held its B-CU held Media Day on Sunday, Aug. 12.
Head Coach Brian Jenkins stressed keeping his team living in the moment.
“We have to learn to stay in the moment. I think that sometimes we jump ahead. We can’t look forward to certain games or opponents. We have to stay focused and work the moment. We have to be consistent and master the fundamentals,” stated Jenkins.
Players dressed in shirt and tie spoke to the press about the upcoming season.
“At first they didn’t agree with it but now they’ve come to understand it. Our players represent us well. It’s more than just football. It’s also about making young men,” added Jenkins.
Goal: Win FCS title
In his first two seasons, Jenkins led the Wildcats to an 18-5 overall record, including a 13-3 mark in the MEAC (8-3, 6-2 in 2011). The goal is to win a Football Championship Series (FCS) title.
“No difference heading into this season other than having some different players and coaches.
Our goal is to win a national championship. Anything else is unacceptable. Going 10-1 and 8-3 is OK, but we want to win a title. We stressed that to recruits,” commented Jenkins.
The Wildcats practiced their first two weeks of camp at New Smyrna Beach Sports Complex. They were scheduled back on campus by Aug. 18.
“It’s camp. It’s practice. It doesn’t matter where we are. We have adjusted well and it doesn’t phase us. It’s the same as on campus. New Smyrna has opened the city to us and we are thankful,” said Jenkins.
Players also are excited about the upcoming season, including junior safety D.J. Howard. Howard is Spruce Creek alum and his parents are B-CU graduates.
“It’s great to play here being from home. I love playing in front of the home fans. I grew up watching Cookman games. I have many memories including the Florida Classic,” commented Howard.
Pre-season All-American offensive lineman Terrence Hackney says that the team is coming together.
“We are like brothers and have a family mentality. That helps our chemistry. It’s about going out there and giving our best, said Hackney.
One thing is different this season as junior quarterback Jackie Wilson is the starter in camp for the first time.
“The game has slowed down for me. In the past, there has been a lot of competition at the position which has helped my progression and helped me stay both focused and humble,” expressed Wilson.
Quarterback now receiver
Former quarterback David Blackwell has moved to wide receiver. He started two games last season and saw action in most under center.
“I like playing receiver. It’s more running than at quarterback. It’s an easy transition because I’ve played multiple positions all my life. Also, being a former QB helps because I can read defenses and coverages,” responded Blackwell.
Former quarterback Matt Johnson is working with the quarterbacks this season.
Wilson also will have plenty of weapons highlighted by senior wide receiver Eddie Poole and junior running back Isidore Jackson.
“I don’t feel pressure as the go-to guy. I just have to work hard and help open things up for my teammates. We are focusing on getting better, especially mentally. I think the sky is the limit,” said Poole.
Added Jackson, “I’ve been in the fire. I just have to stay focused. I’m often underestimated due to my size. Also, we have a lot of weapons on this team. We are also loaded at running back. All our backs are capable.’’
Big shoes to fill
Also, on the defensive side the Wildcats lost stars such as defensive end Ryan Davis along with linebackers Ryan Lewis and Reggie Sandilands.
Junior linebacker Jarkevis Fields, who led the team in tackles last season, thinks that they can fill those big shoes.
Fields responded, “We have multiple guys who can step up. Losing those players may just motivate others to take it to another level. I think we will be OK.”
The Wildcats open their season on Sept. 2 in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando against Alabama State. The game will air live on ESPN.
Jenkins downplayed rumors that suspended Louisiana State University star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu was interested in coming to B-CU. Latest reports had Mathieu announcing which school he would transfer too. Earlier, he announced he would stay at LSU as a student and hoped to return to the team next season.